Fashion’s Investment in First-Party Data
Data analytics has become an essential facet of retailer success. Proper data collection and alignment can offer retailers a number of benefits, such as making their inventory management more efficient, identifying opportunities to cut costs, and even helping them better target and engage with their customers.
As tech giants such as Apple and Google announced they're shifting away from third-party cookies, the importance of first-party data exponentially increases. First-party data is unique to each organization and can help a company curate better customer experiences across all digital and physical touchpoints. This and other benefits are why so many retail companies are investing heavily in their IT and data infrastructure and leadership.
Mining this data effectively, however, comes with its challenges. Setting up a framework that consistently collects data across an organization's touchpoints is one of the most complex elements to perfect. In fact, according to Deloitte, 40 percent of organizations reported a “low” or “medium” level of sophistication across a range of data practices. Furthermore, the Deloitte report noted that more than half of organizations lacked a formal data governance framework and a dedicated budget to increase data fluency and connectivity across an organization.
Data is truly what powers a memorable customer experience. Between 2010 to 2020, software and data investment in the retail sector rose by 123 percent. For many companies, the contribution to first-party data has a clear return on investment when considering customer targeting and the likelihood of brand loyalty growth.
For a luxury fashion company, the path to enhancing the power of data starts with three key components: setting up a fluid, always-on data collection process; creating a framework for synthesizing the information across the company at scale; and quickly implementing the insights to improve the customer experience. On top of collecting data, a company is missing out if it's not taking the time to value and implement timely insights. First-party data can allow companies to understand shopping behaviors, including during times of economic pressures and changes in everyday lifestyles, such as those prompted by the onset of a pandemic and more.
You can collect data, but it's of no value if you don’t understand it or know how to properly use it to glean important customer insights. It's like buying a pair of shoes, only to realize you got the wrong size once you bring them home. Try as you might to wear them, the truth is they’ll likely never leave the box they came in.
At Saks, this framework guides our organization. Our Saks Fifth Avenue brand may be renowned and almost a century old, but we operate through a digital-first lens that moves as adeptly as an early-stage startup. Across all of our touchpoints, we value data fluency and motivate every one of our employees to understand data and how to use it effectively. First-party data allows us to build stronger relationships with our customers. We use data insights to craft email marketing campaigns, utilize influencers, and execute our e-commerce strategy based on customer engagement and response.
As companies grapple with constant change, one thing is clear: data-informed decision making is fundamental to the day-to-day business. Without utilizing data, companies wouldn’t be able to put as much emphasis on personalization or know how consumers interact with their products and services. Committing resources to help scale your data is what differentiates and propels a company forward. Now, do you want to be the kind of company that sits on or uses its data?
Veronika Durgin is vice president of data at Saks, the premier digital platform for luxury fashion.
Related story: How Zero-Party Data Improves on the Promise of First-Party Data
Veronika Durgin is Vice President of Data at Saks, the premier digital platform for luxury fashion. In her role, she is responsible for the data strategy at Saks, from driving enterprise digital transformation and governing enterprise data to enabling data efficiency and supporting analytics and reporting of the full customer shopping journey. Before joining Saks, Veronika held various data engineering and management roles at Indigo, a tech-enabled sustainable agriculture company, and Sonos, Inc. Veronika is skilled at database administration, data engineering, platform architecture, data modeling, and analytics and insights. She earned a master’s degree in computer software engineering from Brandeis University and a bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Massachusetts, Boston.